Criticism Health care Politics The Media The Opinionsphere

Lieberman Ready To “Stick the Knife” In Health Care Reform

[digg-reddit-me]Ezra Klein doesn’t seem to believe Lieberman’s threat to filibuster health care reform will stand:

Lieberman’s argument against the public option is simply false. “I think a lot of people may think that the public option is free,” he says. “It’s not. It’s going to cost the taxpayers and people who have health insurance now, and if it doesn’t it’s going to add terribly to the national debt.” Soon enough, he’ll be looking at Congressional Budget Office numbers saying the exact opposite. The public option costs taxpayers nothing, adds nothing to the debt and saves everyone money. Lieberman won’t be able to hang onto this argument for very long, and then what? [my emphasis]

That seems to be almost willful naivete – as if facts get in the way of insisting something is true! Lieberman can – and probably will – continue to insist that the public option will cost tons of money and add to the deficit no matter what any “independent” body says – and if anyone in the media confronts him on it, they’ll let him off easy as he blows smoke in their face and talks about how, “Nothing is for free.”

The conversation will go like this:

Media guy: Independent estimates show that the public option will save money. The CBO – which you have often cited as a quality source – has said it will cut health care costs by $____ billion dollars. Yet you oppose the public option because you claim it will cost money. How can you do this?

Lieberman: Nothing is free, [name of media guy.] And a report came out just last week that showed how the public option would add $___ million trillion to the deficit. [Neglecting to mention that it was funded by some from for the health insurance industry.] With the public option, health care costs will skyrocket! Nothing is for free. And the public option will lead to rationing of care.

Media guy: Well enough on that, let’s move on to Iran.

Or perhaps Ezra just assumes Lieberman is a good guy who has genuine concerns that are based on policy, but just hasn’t taken the time to take an even cursory look into the main item of controversy in the major policy issue for the past three or so months.

I don’t think that is that likely. Which is why I think Jonathan Chait’s read on Lieberma’s motives is more accurate than Ezra’s:

[Lieberman is] furious with the party, resentful of President Obama (who beat his friend in 2008) and would relish a Democratic catastrophe…My guess is that ultimately he’ll vote for reform, but he’ll do so because the Democrats will scale back their plan and win over Olympia Snowe, making Lieberman’s opposition academic. Lieberman won’t join a futile filibuster, but if he has the chance to stick in the knife and kill health care reform, I think he’d probably jump at the chance.

[Image adapted from a photo by TalkRadioNews licensed under Creative Commons.]

Barack Obama Politics The Opinionsphere


Everyone seems to have very strongly held positions as to whether Joe Lieberman should be allowed to keep his committee positions in the next Senate. I don’t have a strong position.

It’s clear that Lieberman went further than any Democrat should have in attacking the nominee of his party on a personal level – saying he would be afraid for America if Obama won as late as the day before the election. (TPIP has an excellent video from Rachel Maddow’s show over at his site explaining some of the various reasons Joe the Lieberman shouldn’t be allowed to keep his position.)

Yglesias points out that Lieberman – in trying to make the case to keep himself as head of his various committees – seemed to be threatening to vote against the positions he has held for years if he is removed:

As it stands, Lieberman seems to be saying that he deserves to stay in charge of the committee in virtue of his moderately progressive domestic views, but that continuing to hold those views is contingent on him getting favors from the Democratic leadership.

As Rachel Maddow pointed out, Lieberman’s position has more than a mere symbolic relevance – as he held off various investigations of the Bush administration since 2006 with his committee chair position. As long as Lieberman is considered a Democrat, his criticisms of the Democrats will carry extra weight.

But at the same time – by removing him the Democrats would risk alienating moderate Republicans, who they will likely need to get past filibusters. Without Lieberman the Democrats would have no chance at the 60 votes needed to override filibusters. Plus, Lieberman’s demotion and the accompanying commotion would not send the message of bipartisan cooperation Obama is trying to cultivate as he readies to take on the many challenges ahead.

Either option has it’s negatives. The best approach would be for Obama to step in; for Lieberman to apologize to Obama; for Obama to indicate that he would be willing to consider doing what he could to prevent Lieberman from having his committee chairmanships removed; and for whoever the enforcer is in the party – Rahm Emanuel – or whoever else – to extract from Lieberman a promise to vote with the Democrats on any potential filibuster issue. He can vote his conscience or politics or whatever on the issue when it comes to the floor – but he would make a public statement that he would not support any filibuster to block the agenda of the president of the United States of America.

That’s the only thing the Democrats need Joe Lieberman’s vote for – to prevent the filibuster. At almost every other point, with decent party unity, and most likely some Republican cross-overs, they win with ease.

Joe Lieberman’s public statement that President Obama’s agenda deserves an up or down vote could make a significant difference in what can be accomplished in the first 100 days.

Election 2008 McCain Obama Politics


Marc Ambinder has his lists of potential VP picks. Here are mine:


  1. Senator Jim Webb (Virginia)
    The only choice that makes sense. Appeals to the Appalachian demographic that has been escaping him; solidifies his national security and military credentials; makes Virginia a swing state; his Reagan administration background emphasizes how far astray Bush has led the country.


  1. Governor Charlie Crist (Florida)
    My take on McCain’s campaign this past year is that he is desperate to win, and is willing to compromise almost anything in order to do so. The one exception is his position on what he sees to be the defining issue of our time: Islamist extremism. He believes this single issue overrides all other options. McCain is already focusing on Florida and trying to undermine Obama in the Jewish community there. Picking the popular governor would almost guarantee him this perennial swing state. Also an important factor: picking Crist would protect his right flank and placate social conservatives. Apparently, I’m a dumbass and got my facts wrong here.  Crist is a social conservative, but an “uncomfortable” one, having campaign as pro-choice before he became pro-life.  Another major negative: he, like McCain, is really old.
  2. Governor Mitt Romney (Massachusetts)
    A pick who would placate movement conservatives, bring him a substantial fundraiser, and someone who can speak convincingly on the economy. By picking Romney, McCain is indicating that he is giving his campaign over to the “movement.”
  3. Senator Joe Lieberman (Connecticut)
    Risking the alienation of social conservatives, the Lieberman choice would be bold and would put McCain in the best spot to win the presidency. He would be demonstrating that his presidency would be about the War Against Terrorism as well as his bipartisan bona fides. The boldest move, but also the one McCain would be under enormous pressure not to make. If McCain really believes this election should be about Iraq and terrorism, and if he wants to win on these issues, he should pick Lieberman. He won’t however.
Election 2008 Foreign Policy McCain Politics

Lieberman’s selective indignation

Isaac Chotiner of The New Republic “throws some elbows” in his pushback against Senator Joe Lieberman’s Obama-like-all-Democrats-is-unmanly-and-weak-on-terrorism editorial in the Wall Street Journal:

[Lieberman writes:]

Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagan sitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot.

That’s right: It wasn’t all that bad that JFK ordered a disastrous invasion of Cuba that almost led–at least indirectly–to nuclear war with the Soviets. No, that was fine when compared to Obama’s “naivete.” And as for Reagan’s Iran policy, well, nothing to criticize there. Perhaps if Obama sent Ahmadinejad some missiles and a birthday cake, the Illinois Senator would gain Lieberman’s approval…